Somerville First UMC in Somerville, Tenn., was the setting for the McKendree District’s 2014 Laity Celebration, on Sunday afternoon, Sept.14. A total of 21 “Unsung Heroes and Heroines” were recognized for their faithful, dedicated service to their church and the community.
Dr. Daniel J. Earheart-Brown, president of Memphis Theological Seminary and professor of theology, was the guest speaker. Dr. Earheart-Brown did an excellent job of highlighting our theme of the day, “Holiness of Heart.” He cited references to John Wesley’s sermons on the topic and reminded us about what it means to be holy – and that as Christians, this is something we should think about and live out each day of our lives.
Rev. Jim Graham, board member of Feeding Fayette (formerly Moscow Community Food Pantry), was the featured mission sponsor. Graham spoke about the work of this important organization, as it continues to help improve the quality of life for those in Fayette County who seek assistance through the excellent work of this organization. Feeding Fayette, along with many other volunteers, provided refreshments for a celebratory reception that was held after the awards presentations.
Two additional recognitions were presented.
The “Ernie Sigman Award for Lifetime Service” was presented to Jerry and Nancy Jo Deaton from Emmanuel UMC in Memphis, Tenn. From the moment the Deatons joined Emmanuel in 1974, they provided strong leadership for the church in a wide variety of roles.
Both outstanding teachers, they became mainstays of Christian education, Jerry in adult classes, Nancy Jo primarily with the children, and both when it came time to teach Disciple Bible study classes. Both have served in various elected positions of leadership, including being delegates to the Memphis Annual Conference. Jerry also served on the Memphis Conference Clergy Wellness Commission. Their consistent service to the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ is an inspiration to all of us.
The second annual “Ann Willis United Methodist Women (UMW) Award” was presented to Gladys Marie Lamon from Centenary UMC in Memphis, Tenn. This award was created to commemorate the legacy of Ann Willis, a faithful member of the UMW at Centenary UMC.
Lamon’s involvement with the UMW has been steady and productive. She developed a passion for the UMW organization after attending her first Women’s Assembly in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1982, and she has attended several since then. As a young UMW member, she was nurtured, trained and supported by the ladies of her sub-group. She has held four major positions in Centenary UMC’s local unit and was honored to serve as secretary during the administration of the late Ann Willis.
Lamon presently serves as the “Key woman” for United Methodist Neighborhood Centers (UMNC) in Memphis, Tenn. In May of this year, she hosted the UMNC Awareness Luncheon at Centenary UMC with 90 ladies present. She has been on the nominating committee for the McKendree District UMW Team. She has also served as social action coordinator for the Memphis Conference UMW and is presently the conference UMW treasurer.
In addition to her service to the UMW, Lamon is very involved with other ministries at Centenary UMC. She is often spotted driving the church van, teaching her Sunday School class and leading the membership care committee. She is certainly an outstanding United Methodist Woman in many ways and a most deserving recipient of this award.
Erv Walker, lay servant from Capleville UMC in Memphis, Tenn., provided an inspirational and uplifting devotion and opening prayer. A wonderful musical offering was provided by the Somerville First UMC Chancel Choir, led by Nancy Smith.
The McKendree District congratulates all who were recognized on this special day of celebration for the laity and clergy in our district!